America

When Cultures Integrate — Establishing Emily

This week we watched Asia Rising: The Next Generation of Hip Hop (2019), a documentary delving into the rise of Asian hip hop music. As the internet has gained prominence, the assimilation of cultures has been widespread (Athique and Baulch, 2019). In Asia, as more people started to use the internet to explore different genres […]

When Cultures Integrate — Establishing Emily

Girls Generation: The Beginnings of my K-Pop Journey

Autoethnography is a process of connecting personal autobiographical experiences to social, cultural and political contexts for the purposes of storytelling and communication (Ellis & Bochner, cited in Alsop 2002). A key autoethnographic prompt put forward by Sheridan (n.d.) is to ask “how can I describe this situation so that others would fully understand what happened?” I think an important step to take in answering this question is to reflect on how I ended up becoming interested in Korean pop music specifically and how my initially shallow experiences with Kpop have developed into a slightly deeper appreciation of Kpop and Jpop, and an attempt to place these genres within broader cultural and industrial contexts. It all started in early 2012 when my younger brother showed me the film clip to “Gee” by Girls Generation.

It’s fair to say that Gee far exceeded my initial expectations and I was immediately drawn into the song with its bright colours, cheerful tone, adorable choreography, and relentlessly catchy vocal chants of “gee, gee, gee, gee, baby, baby, baby.” After a few days of repeat listens and trying to sing along with a language I completely don’t understand, I decided to explore further into the group via the related YouTube videos for the film clip, where I came across the far less bubbly, far more sexually mature R&B-styled song “Run Devil Run”.

Because I enjoyed this song as well, I decided to share the above video with my brother on Facebook. It was here that a mutual friend (and killjoy) pointed out that this was actually a song that was bought off American songwriters and that it had even been recorded as a demo by Ke$ha, in an attempt to stifle our enjoyment. I checked the facts and it appeared he was right, it was written by American’s and recorded by Ke$sha (Pini 2011). It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the song, but it did get me thinking about how much American influence exists in the Korean pop industry, and even how much of Korean pop can be thought of as inherently Korean. Up to that point I knew nothing and had assumed that because I was watching Korean women singing in Korean that this meant I was getting an entirely “in house” Korean produced song made for Korean audiences. But this assumption proved to be naïve and overly simplistic. Run Devil Run utilizes a schaffel beat that is popular in German techno and has been used by popular English electronic band Depeche Mode in songs like “Personal Jesus” (Martin 2011). Girls Generation are also highly successful in Japan, where they regularly make appearances as guests on Japanese variety shows (Martin 2011). The appeal to global audiences becomes particularly noticeable when the same song is re-recorded and repackaged in different countries using different languages, with Girls Generation songs being released in Korean, Japanese, and even English (allkpop 2011) .


References

Allkpop 2011, ‘SNSD to release repackaged Japanese edition of “The Boys”’, allkpop, 6 December, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.allkpop.com/article/2011/12/snsd-to-release-repackaged-japanese-edition-of-the-boys

Alsop, C. K. 2002, ‘Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol 3, no 3, http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf

Martin, I 2011, ‘Every day we’re schaffeling: What Girls Generation are doing right’, The Japan Times, 30 June, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2011/06/30/culture/every-day-were-schaffeling-what-girls-generation-are-doing-right/#.VCK3IBbiNpy

Pini, G 2011, ‘Girls’ Generation’s “Run Devil Run” Is Our Music Video of the Day’, Paper Mag, 11 January, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.papermag.com/2011/01/girls_generations_run_devil_ru.php

Sheridan, R (n.d.), ‘Autoethnography: Researcher as Participant’, An Introduction to Autoethnography, viewed 15 September 2014 http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/

Reconnecting with my childhood.

Sailor Moon was my Superman. She was the hero that my seven – year – old self aspired to be. I mean who wouldn’t love to be a moon princess who fights for crime and justice, eats a lot of food, and cries when things don’t go her way – not to mention have a dreamy guy in a mask lust over you.

However as I grew older Sailor Moon changed from the hero I wanted to be. She became a distant memory. The toys I once owned were discarded, the costumes tucked into the deepest corners of my wardrobe. The television series was all but forgotten. I was perfectly fine with the present situation, however on July 5th 2014, everything changed.

According to Den of Geek, the reboot of the anime version of Sailor Moon was announced two years ago at an event celebrating the 20th anniversary. The Fandom went crazy. Every person had a different theory for what path the show would take. Would it be closer to a remake of the original anime? Would they stick to the Manga this time around?

When I first heard about the reboot, I – like the other hundreds of fangirls – freaked out! But it also had me reminiscing on the anime that was. Before watching the new and improved I decided to do a little research on the TV series that changed my life. The information that i had found prompted me to look deeper into the difference between the Japanese or Eastern version of the anime, to the localised version shown in the West.

Looking into the show I fell in love with I discovered a huge amount of changes. According to Rebecca Ballanger of Bookmans Entertainment Exchange the American version was altered due to the “reoccurring themes of adolescent sexuality and homosexuality”. When I watched the original anime as a child the link between Sailor Moon and Japanese culture was almost non-existent. This could mean that the Americanised version perhaps went a little too crazy at altering the anime for Western audiences.

For my research project I will be looking at the difference in not only the reboot and the original, but also the East vs. West portrayal of both new and old. It has been confirmed that an American version of the new Sailor Moon Crystal will be happening, so it’ll be interesting to see if they follow their previous path or stick more closely to the already successful Japanese version.

References:

Ballanger, R 2014, Too Many Girlfriends: Sailor Moon’s Censored Life in the U.S, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, May 11, viewed August 11, http://bookmans.com/too-many-girlfriends-sailor-moons-censored-life-us/

Mammano, M 2014, The Sailor Moon Reboot: what we now and what to expect, Den of Geek, April 7, viewed August 11, http://www.denofgeek.us/tv/sailor-moon/167439/the-sailor-moon-reboot-what-we-know-and-what-to-expect